Hyundai’s new range-topping SUV, the Palisade, has arrived in Australia.
Bringing road-focussed dynamics for those who want more of a car-like driving experience in an SUV, the monocoque body Palisade is available as a petrol 2WD, but Hyundai's HTRAC AWD system is also offered with a turbodiesel.
The Palisade also offers seats for up to eight occupants to suit those who need the capacity but don’t want a people mover.
Already released in the US and other LHD markets, the right-hand drive version of the Palisade was developed primarily for Australia, according to Hyundai.
“We’re pleased to introduce all-new Palisade large SUV as the flagship of the Hyundai range, featuring the perfect blend of smart technologies and luxury features,” said Hyundai Motor Company Australia Chief Executive Officer, Jun Heo.
“With seven or eight seats and advanced HTRAC AWD, all-new Palisade delivers a stylish, safe and comfortable SUV experience for the whole family, with superb capabilities on and off the road.
“All-new Palisade gives momentum to our ‘18 in 18’ product onslaught, which will see the Hyundai range refreshed through 2021 and beyond, with an exciting new line-up of SUV and passenger models featuring an array of alternative powertrains.”
The Palisade arrives in two trim levels - base and Highlander – both of which are available with a petrol or diesel engine, and 2WD or AWD. An eight-speed automatic transmission is common to both, as is the eight-seat capacity, but the premium Highlander grade can be optioned as a seven-seater.
The petrol engine is Hyundai’s familiar 3.8-litre GDi V6, producing 217kW and 355Nm, with combined cycle fuel economy of 10.7lt/100km. The 2.2-litre turbodiesel is a Euro5-compliant four-cylinder that offers maximums of 147kW and 440Nm, with listed fuel economy of 7.3lt/100km, also on the combined cycle.
An eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters is the only transmission offered, which uses shift-by-wire technology and drives the front wheels in the 2WD petrol version. AWD is only available with the 2.2 diesel that uses Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel drive system.
A multi-mode system, HTRAC features an electronic, variable-torque-split clutch that provides active torque control between the front and rear axles. Optimal apportioning of torque between the front and rear axles improves traction, but the focus is on grip in slippery conditions and enhancing stability when cornering. Differential braking further improves cornering prowess by braking either one or both wheels on the inner side of the vehicle during a turn.
Variable torque distribution is biased towards improving the Palisade’s performance in straight-line acceleration, medium- and high-speed cornering, and hill starts.
That being said, Hyundai do claim HTRAC is capable in off-road situations as well, with Multi-Terrain Mode control and selectable drive modes able to tame “the toughest terrain”.
The drive modes are familiar from other Hyundai SUVs and include Comfort, Eco, Sport and Smart. Multi-Terrain Mode is only available on the Palisade 2.2 diesel and adds three additional modes – Snow, Sand and Mud – that alter the traction control calibration, accelerator response, torque distribution and transmission shift points.
Anticipating that many Palisade buyers will be towing, Trailer Stability Assist is standard on both grades, as is trailer connecting assistance that’s linked to the steering and rear-view camera.
Continuing a styling theme seen most recently on the compact Venue SUV, the Palisade takes those elements and maximises them in all areas. The grille is big and bold, with thick framing, while the composite LED headlights sit in oversized openings edged by large DRLs. The segmented treatment of the headlights continues with the LED tail lights, which add bright metal inner trim to replicate the visual effect of the DRLs.
In profile, the Palisade’s raked C-pillar is a styling highlight, accentuated by blackout B- and D-pillars, aiming to counteract the Palisade’s much boxier shape compared to other Hyundai SUVs. The third-row glass area isn’t huge, but it’s better than some three-row competitors.
Reflecting the Palisade’s road bias, the wheelarches aren’t huge and the plastic cladding is minimal, too, which means the standard 18-inch alloys fill the openings well and the 20-inch rims on the Highlander grade do it even better.
Inside, the styling theme is described as “horizontal,” with a sweeping dash design and centre console screen that’s incorporated under the same hood as the instrument cluster.
Air con controls, drive mode selection, seat controls and the push-button transmission selector are all on the centre console that’s broad and flat, keeping the “width” theme going.
Black leather trim for the doors and seats is standard, contrasted with metal-look panels on the contact surfaces. Burgundy or beige Nappa leather seats are an option on the Highlander, as is faux beech wood trim for the dash and doors.
In the base Palisade, the high-mount centre console screen is a 7.0-inch unit that increases to 10.25 inches in the Palisade Highlander.
Standard features on both grades include the aforementioned push-button transmission selector, power driver’s seat, three-zone air conditioning, a 12-speaker Infinity premium audio system, push-button starting, keyless entry and an electric park brake.
Reflecting the needs of the large modern family, there are seven USB ports and no less than sixteen cupholders throughout the interior, while a boarding step and 220mm foot clearance makes for easy entry to the third-row seats that are larger enough to take adults and include a 10-degree recline function. For further convenience, there’s powered folding operation on the second-row seatbacks.
With the third-row seats folded, luggage capacity increases from 311 litres to 704 litres. With the second-row folded, there’s more than 1200 litres of space.
Clever features on both grades include Quiet Mode that mutes the audio system’s rear speakers and drops the maximum volume level on the front speakers, allowing kids to sleep in the rear, while mum and dad listen up front. There's also a Driver Talk function that uses an in-built microphone to allow the driver to speak to second- and third-row occupants without raising their voice.
The Highlander upgrades all this with a 12-way power adjustable driver’s seat with memory function and 8-way power adjustable passenger seat. First- and second-row seats are heated, with ventilation also on the first- and second-row in the 7-seat version.
A dual-panel power sunroof with tilt function, wireless phone charger, Head-Up Display and a powered hands-free tailgate are also on the Highlander spec list.
The Palisade is equipped with a comprehensive range of Hyundai SmartSense technologies, including Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist, Driver Attention Warning with Leading Vehicle Departure Alert (that audibly advises the driver if they haven’t moved when the car ahead has), Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Following Assist, Safe Exit Assist, Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go function, and Forward Collision Avoidance Assist with both pedestrian and cyclist detection. With kids in mind, a Rear Occupant Alert is also standard, along with six airbags, including three-row curtain airbags.
On top of this, the Highlander adds a Blind Spot and Surround View monitor.
Now in Stock
Roll out of the Palisade started in December, so most Hyundai dealers should have units in stock by the time you read this.
List pricing starts at $60,000 for the Palisade petrol 2WD, rising to $75,000 for the Palisade Highlander diesel AWD, with no discount for the seven-seat version. At time of writing, drive away pricing for the Palisade was $65,107 and $77,966 for the Palisade Highlander.
For further details, latest pricing and any introductory offers, see your Hyundai dealer.
2021 Hyundai Palisade pricing*
Palisade 3.8 GDi 2WD auto $60,000
Palisade Highlander 3.8 GDi 2WD auto $71,000
Palisade 2.2 CRDi AWD auto $64,000
Palisade Highlander 2.2 CRDi AWD auto $75,000
*list pricing, excluding on-road costs